Mind-Body Healing Arthritis Alternatives
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Expressing Your Feelings
     
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The effects of writing about feelings:

Writing about your feelings supports good health. In studies with healthy people, psychologist James Pennebaker demonstrated that when people write about past traumas their body's immune function is stimulated.

Writing about feelings helps people with Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Journal of the American Medical Association (14 April 1999) reported a study of 107 people with either asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. For 3 consecutive days every participant in the experimental group spent 20 minutes alone writing about a traumatic event in their past.

Health was evaluated before the experiment, 2 weeks later, 4 weeks later and 4 months later. A statistically significant portion of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis who wrote about their traumas had significant reduction in disease activity even 4 months after spending 3 days writing about upsetting experiences. The control group did not show this level of improvement. Asthma patients continued to show improvement in lung function 4 months after the writing experiment.

Writing About Feelings. How-to suggestions:
  • In a journal or notebook begin your sentence with "I feel" and then allow the words to come. Put down your first thoughts without judging or editing; no checking for spelling or grammar. Give yourself permission to write poorly. Allow yourself to say unacceptable things. No one has to see this but you.


  • Start with a list of emotions and complete the following:


    • I am angry that....
    • I am sad that....
    • I am disappointed that....
    • I am sorry that....
    • I feel guilty that....
    • I am hurt that....
    • I wish that....


  • A lady that I know is so unused to noticing her feelings that she carries a list of all possible emotions (anger, sadness, fear, guilt, embarrassment, self-pity, resentment, jealousy, etc.). When she feels upset she checks her list to help her figure out what she is feeling.


  • Take a large piece of paper. In the center write "I feel." Write whatever words come to mind all over the paper. Don't judge anything. Just let the words come. Try this exercise with your non-dominant hand.


  • If something today is bothering you in a way that seems out of proportion to the situation, ask yourself if it reminds you of something in your past. John Gray recommends writing a letter to the person who hurt you in the past. (Do not mail the letter). Tell this person what he or she did and how bad you feel. Next pretend you are the person who upset you in the past and write a letter to yourself from that person. Give yourself the apology and recognition that you deserved but never received.
If you feel stuck when you try to write about feelings:
Write about being stuck. How does it feel to be stuck? What do you want to happen next? I might write something like this:

"I am stuck. This is a stupid exercise. I feel stupid. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. Why am I doing this?", etc...

Eventually, if I stay with the exercise, I always have something significant to say.

Maybe you need to get physical:
If you think you might be angry, try hitting a pillow or throwing a ball against a wall, or kicking something. If you have health problems involving hands or feet, make sure you are hitting or kicking something soft like pillows or a child's punching bag. Use your voice. If you are worried about neighbors hearing you, scream into a pillow.

End sessions where you release a lot of negativity with something positive.

For example:
  • Write in your journal: I am grateful for....
  • Write a thank-you note to yourself for the good work you are doing.
  • Make a list of all the things you want for yourself.
  • Take a bath or shower.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Meditate - for example:
    • Sit quietly for 5 to 15 minutes doing nothing but noticing your breath
    • Think of someone or something that you love completely. Focus your attention on your heart and feel yourself sending love to that someone or something
  • Listen to a relaxation tape.

Relaxation and Healing Tapes and CDs (sponsor)